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Low demand for onions from States worries Centre

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It fears over 36,000 tonnes it is importing may rot in the godowns

The government is worried that over 36,000 tonnes of onion it is importing will rot in the godowns because of low demand from the State governments. The prices of the commodity had hit up to ₹170 a kg in Delhi.

Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the Centre is offering onions to States at ₹55 a kg landed cost and is ready to bear the cost of transporting them. “So far, we have contracted [import of] 36,000 tonnes. Of which, 18,500 tonnes have reached India but the States have taken only 2,000 tonnes that too after much persuasion. We are worried about its disposal because it is a perishable commodity,” Mr. Paswan told reporters.

He said while the government has to worry about the end consumer it also has to take care of the farmers. “We have to hit runs as well as protect the wicket. Now the farmers will accuse us of creating a glut.” He said someone can go to court accusing the government of leaving the onion to rot.

The Union government imported onions from countries like Turkey and Egypt.

As per the government data, retail onion prices average ₹50 per kg in most markets but is being sold at ₹70-80 a kg in Delhi.

Asked why prices are still high despite the imports, Mr. Paswan said, “The imports are to improve the domestic supply and check prices. If the State governments are not ready to take them, what can we do?”

So far Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal governments have taken them. Many States have withdrawn their demand, he said.

Speaking about the rising prices of commodities like edible oil, Mr. Paswan said the government is keeping a close watch and will take required action whenever necessary.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 6:57:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/low-demand-for-onions-from-states-worries-centre/article30568728.ece

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